Heavenly voices

PUBLISHED: 12:54 05 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:39 20 February 2013



The Taunton-based Phoenix Singers celebrate their 40th birthday this year and a summer concert will mark the choir's exciting milestone, explains member and choir administrator Frances Webb.

The Taunton-based Phoenix Singers celebrate their 40th birthday this year and a summer concert will mark the choirs exciting milestone, explains member and choir administrator Frances Webb

What is the history of the Pheonix Singers?

In 1971, in Devon, a group of friends decided to meet and sing in order to help a friends recovery from a serious illness. After a few years the rehearsals moved to Somerset, and for a number of years the choir has met at Taunton School on a Tuesday evening.

Although the group has developed greatly in recent years in terms of its performing experience, ability and skills, the original ethos of a group of friends meeting to sing remains at the heart of The Phoenix Singers. The group currently has 30 voices and we still have one of the founder members singing in the choir today.

How would you describe your repertoire?

The choir has a very eclectic approach to styles and periods of choral music embracing both unaccompanied and accompanied vocal works. Concerts span music from the 16th century to the present day. However, much of the repertoire draws on the music of composers from the 16th and 20th centuries.

What venues do you play?

The Phoenix Singers perform programmes of both sacred and secular music, however more of the concerts have religious themes as the venues are often churches. The choir makes annual Christmas visits to St Mary Magdalene Church in Taunton and Taunton School Chapel. The spring and autumn concerts are also often held in a religious setting. The summer concert is a secular programme and has a more lighthearted musical content.

Who is your musical director?

Andrew Maddocks has been conducting The Phoenix Singers since 1996, although his introduction to the choir was as a singer in the bass section of the choir.

Andrew has spent all of his life working in music education; he co-authored a music education programme for primary schools based on singing. Andrew founded the Bridgwater Young Peoples Choir in 1983 and conducted the Taunton Childrens Choir for a time during the 1990s.

Are you looking for new members?

We are always pleased to hear from anyone who is keen to sing in a chamber-sized choir and would be delighted to hear from any tenor voices. We have a Student Scholarship Scheme and a Young Singers Membership Scheme for singers between the ages of 16 and 25, to encourage young people to take up chamber choir singing.

People can get in touch by phoning 07970 710056 or by e-mailing me on franwbb@gmail.com. Further contact details and information are also available at our website www.thephoenixsingers.co.uk.

When is the 40th birthday summer concert?

It is being held at The Tithe Barn in Dunster on Sunday 10 July and is a programme of lighthearted, joyful music with a celebratory vibe, beginning with an invitation for people to take a picnic and enjoy the walled garden behind The Tithe Barn from 5.30pm. The concert commences at 7pm and in the interval wine and strawberries will be available.

Tickets are 10 (students free) and can be obtained from http://www.thephoenixsingers.co.uk/, by phoning 01823 432704 or from Taunton and Minehead Tourist Information Centres.

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